Accuracy in Media

With the several candidates suspending their presidential campaigns last week, former vice president Joe Biden remained as one of two nomination contenders remaining in the Democratic Party presidential primaries. Biden’s delegate count surpassed Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) after the Super Tuesday primaries, pulling ahead with 664 delegates to Sanders’ 573 delegates.

Yet, questions remain whether Biden can keep ahead of Sanders in the rest of the primaries due to his history of gaffe-making.

Biden’s gaffe history is long and is not unique to his past campaigns. But the mainstream media has mostly ignored his campaign trail gaffes since last fall. Meanwhile, conservative and right-leaning media outlets, such as the Daily Caller and the Orange County Register, covered Biden’s multiple public gaffes during this campaign cycle. Also, foreign-based media have questioned Biden’s public speaking abilities based on Biden’s gaffes, such as Australia’s Sky News.

The only recent mainstream media articles covering some of Biden’s gaffes were articles from Time and Newsweek. But Newsweek’s article was from January 15, 2020, meaning that the media has ignored Biden’s gaffes for almost two months.

Time’s list of gaffes span Biden’s history as a longtime politician and it was not clear when it was published.

Newsweek reported that Biden contradicted himself on the debate stage on the subject of the Iraq war authorization. It also noted that Biden told miners in December 2019 that they should “learn to program for god’s sake,” which offended some miners. In a July 2019 debate, Biden misstated his campaign’s website, which instead would direct users to a site supportive of another primary candidate.

Before that, the last gaffe-related article was from USA Today’s September 2019 write-up on the issue, headlined, “Joe Biden is a self-described ‘gaffe machine.’ So far, Democratic voters don’t seem to mind.” The piece asked if Biden’s propensity to misstate things would hurt him in the primaries. So far, it has not, but it should not excuse the media for ignoring any of Biden’s recent gaffes.

Here is a brief list of some of Biden’s gaffes in the 2020 campaign:

  • Biden confused New Hampshire with Vermont and complimented New Hampshire residents on Vermont’s beauty
  • He claimed as vice president, he met with teenagers from a Florida high school after a mass shooting (Trump’s vice president, Mike Pence, was vice president at the time)
  • In August 2019, Biden said “poor kids…are just as talented as white kids” in Iowa
  • In the same month, Biden told Iowans, “We choose truth over facts”

The mainstream media’s lack of reporting on Biden’s series of gaffes is a demonstration of the media’s failure to do their job correctly. The media criticizes President Donald Trump for many of his off-the-cuff remarks, but it mostly ignores Biden’s mistakes. The mainstream media should treat Trump and Biden equally and not discriminate against its news coverage. Considering Biden’s rise in the delegate count and in the polls, the mainstream media should also analyze Biden as much as it analyzes Trump. If it does not do so, the media should be called out for biased and inaccurate coverage.

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